In recent years, we’ve seen a shift in how corporations market their brands. Increasingly, companies are using advocacy advertising to raise awareness about certain causes.
Advocacy advertising is an incredible way to connect with your customers and build credibility.
Through it, your customer will trust your brand name, making your company brand stand out in your market. Then, making them follow your social media channels and align with your brand will be easy.
While most people think of advertising as all about hawking products, it can be so much more. Learn more about this advocacy advertising approach. Discover how it drives consumers to respond to your call to action.
Scroll down to know more.
What is Advocacy Advertising?
Advocacy advertising is a way to market your brand name by supporting a social cause or message. Nonprofits often implement this marketing strategy to sway public opinion. Some private organizations also use advocacy campaigns in their influencer marketing.
Usually, this type of advertising takes a position on a controversial issue, such as abortion or gun control. The goal is to persuade the audience to take action on the issue by voting for a certain candidate or supporting a particular law.
The Two Main Types of Advocacy Advertising
There are two main types of advocacy advertising: issue and express.
Issue advocacy ads do not expressly advocate for or against a candidate. Instead, they focus on promoting a particular issue or cause. These ads typically run during election season and are often put out by interest groups or PACs.
While an issue advocacy advertisement doesn’t specifically call on voters to support or oppose a candidate, it can still indirectly sway public opinion about an elected official—especially if that office takes a stance on the issue in question.
For example, suppose an elected official has taken an unpopular position with voters on an issue that is being promoted in an issue advocacy ad. In that case, that ad may persuade voters to vote against the official in the next election.
Express advocacy advertising is more direct than issue advocacy advertising, explicitly calling on voters to support or oppose a candidate. These ads typically run closer to Election Day, when campaigns are looking to get their supporters to go out and vote.
While express advocacy ads are more direct than issue advocacy ads, they are still subject to certain restrictions.
For example, under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), express advocacy ads cannot be put out by corporations or unions. They can only be paid for by political committees (like PACs) and other organizations that have filed with the FEC as “qualified nonprofit organizations.”
Additionally, express advocacy ads cannot include language that explicitly asks viewers to vote for or against a candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary election.
Advocacy Advertising vs. Commercial Advertising
To better understand advocacy-based marketing strategy, you must differentiate it from commercial advertising.
Commercial advertising is designed to promote the products or services of a company. It focuses on sending a message to as many consumers as possible to make a sale. So, commercial advertising is more on the product life cycle, which often includes:
- premiering a new product when it first hits the market
- focusing on the growth of the popularity of the item
- promoting the maturity of the product
- addressing a potential drop or a lack of demand in the market.
Advocacy advertising has nothing to do with selling products or services. It is designed to raise awareness about social, environmental, or political campaigns.
While commercial or traditional advertising features positive messages and happy customers, advocacy advertising can be quite critical of the status quo and aims to:
- spread a social, political, or environmental message
- increase awareness
- influence people to take action and help solve a major problem in society
- improve loyalty from the audience to strengthen the cause
So, why has the corporate world begun implementing advocacy advertisements to promote issues that have nothing to do with increasing market share?
Let’s talk about the benefits of advocacy campaigns.
Advantages of Advocacy Advertising
The biggest advantages of advocacy marketing strategy involve the following:
- Exposure across a larger segment of the population
- Helps advocacy groups improve awareness of the issue and, consequently, your brand
- Improves your brand value and image in the marketplace
- Spreading communications through trustworthy channels, including social media channels
- Developing a decentralized sales team through customers interested in the advocacy issue
- Boosts conversion rates due to more positive reviews
- User-generated content and information increase consumer engagement with your brand
- Cuts the costs related to customer acquisition
- Improves loyalty among the customer base
These benefits will strengthen the business community for employees, partnering companies, and clients.
Common Advocacy Advertising Outlets
The most typical advocacy advertising outlets are nonprofit organizations, lobbyists, advocacy groups, and corporations that want to send personalized messages and promote essential causes.
Other interest groups also use this form of advertising. Some known businesses that have used this method are Tesla, Chobani, and Patagonia.
Tesla produces vehicles that run on electric energy. It aims to transition drivers to using sustainable energy and protecting the environment. Much of the advertising related to Tesla focuses on the importance of green energy.
Another famous example is Chobani, which emphasizes inclusivity and equality among its customer base. It led to greater customer advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing.
Patagonia also follows socially responsible methods, environmentally-friendly processes, and fair wages. Positioning their values in their marketing strategies helped boost Patagonia’s brand image.
Advocacy Advertising Channels
Different advocacy advertising channels are available, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Let’s look at some of the most popular options so you can decide which is right for your brand.
One of the most traditional methods of advocacy advertising is television commercials. This method allows you to reach a large audience quickly and efficiently. But it can be expensive to produce a high-quality commercial.
- You have a very limited window of opportunity to make an impression. Get to the point quickly, and don’t try to cram too much information into your ad.
- Use strong visuals in your ad to grab attention and make an impact.
- The best commercials are the ones that tell a story that resonates with viewers on an emotional level. If you can tap into what people are feeling, you’ll be much more likely to make a lasting impression—and get results.
- Don’t just assume that your commercial will work because you think it’s catchy enough. Always test your ad before you commit to running it on TV.
- One of the most important aspects of TV advertising is choosing when to run your ad. Choose the right time slot.
Another option is print ads in newspapers or magazines. This method can be very effective if your target audience reads these publications. One of the great things about print advertising is that you can target specific demographics with your ad.
For example, if you’re trying to reach stay-at-home moms, you can place ads in magazines or newspapers that they’re likely to read. This helps ensure that your ad reaches its intended audience.
However, one of the biggest drawbacks of print advertising is that it can be expensive. You’ll need to pay to place your ad in a magazine or newspaper. On top of that, you’ll need to purchase new ads regularly to keep your brand fresh in customers’ minds.
The best thing about radio advertising is that it can be targeted to a specific audience. There are different radio stations with different programs and personalities that appeal to different demographics.
Another great thing about radio advertising is that it is relatively affordable compared to other forms of advertising, such as TV or print ads.
Online ads offer several advantages for advocacy groups, including the ability to target specific demographics, track clicks and conversions, and scale up or down a campaign quickly and easily.
You can do this through various means, including banner ads, search engine marketing, and social media marketing.
Just beware that online ads can be easily ignored if they’re not well-designed or relevant to the user.
Many advocacy campaigns have gained traction and improved their brand’s awareness. For example, the company FEED donates meals to the hungry with every sale of their handbags and accessories.
One simple advocacy campaign they chose is the #FEEDSupper hashtag. They ask their customers to host meals for the hungry and/or homeless. They gather donations and post photographs online of their events.
Airbnb centers on the global refugee crisis. It promotes inclusivity through the #WeAccept campaign. This campaign aired in a commercial during the super bowl in 2017. It led to more than 30,000 tweets during the first half of the super bowl.
Moreover, the Airbnb campaign plans to provide temporary housing to at least 100,000 people over five years. Certainly, these strategies will help your advocacy campaigns, regardless of the organization you run.
Takeaways and Solutions for Your Team
Advocacy advertising is a good strategy to raise environmental, social, or political awareness. For corporations, it can build brand loyalty, increase customer satisfaction, and improve the company’s image.
You can learn advocacy advertising strategies from Tesla, Chobani, Airbnb, or FEED. Use social media channels, email marketing, radio, or television to position advocacy campaigns. With this marketing strategy, your company will stand out among its competition.
Here are other frequently asked questions about advocacy advertising strategies to guide your research.
An example of an advocacy campaign is an NGO raising cancer survival issues or funding cancer research. The American Cancer Society, for instance, uses this type of marketing.
Consumers are more likely to buy from and support companies that share their values. Moreover, employees are more likely to want to work for an organization that advocates for social or political causes they care about.
The main risk of advocacy advertising is that it can backfire if the cause is controversial or not well-received by the public. For example, if a company takes a stand on a hot-button issue like abortion, it could alienate some customers and employees.
There are key steps you’ll need to take to create an advocacy commercial, including:
-Engaging your audience with a strong opening statement
-Describing the problem at hand
-Offering data to back up the severity of the issue
-Connecting to the audience by considering their values and interests
-Finishing with a call to action
Advocacy marketing campaigns do five good things:
– strengthen your brand
– ensure your public perception is effective for your long-term business goals
– improve the loyalty of your customer base
– boost retention
– raise customer satisfaction levels